“Small Town Diaries” is a series in this blog of posts I create inspired by my home town, Lazi. Lazi is a small town in the small island of Siquijor. It is a small town but, growing up, I never felt like we were disconnected with the world. We had television, we watched American movies, we read books, we read newspapers, we even welcome national celebrities and politicians often.
For as long as I can remember, these what I call modern gypsies have been a permanent fixture in our small town’s fiesta celebration every summer. Five to 10 days before the fiesta and five to 10 days after, they occupy a substantial amount of real estate in town where they set up temporary tents and display their goods all day. Most of these gypsies are traders — selling everything from magic wallets to household wares.
Nov. 25 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Despite being one of the most liberated countries in the world, the Philippines continues to be a double-standard society, where certain acts of men are accepted and tolerated, while the same acts of women are frowned upon. My only solution to the complete elimination of violence (physical, sexual, mental and economic) against women is empowerment and the only tool I know that could lead to empowerment is education.
Living in a town far from the fast-paced life of the city and a little behind in technology makes for good and meaningful conversations. That is what we normally do in a small town – we gather around, especially after dinner, and catch up on each other’s lives. In the hopes of engaging in a meaningful conversation and learning several things from someone that I think is both intelligent and humane, I threw some questions to my friend who entered into a life he has always hoped for as a child.
In a town populated by a little more than 20,000 souls, my hometown, Lazi, is indeed very small. It is also located in an equally small island that is just lucky to be surrounded by bigger and more economically-progressive neighbors. While we are not very technologically-backward — we have electricity, mobile phone sites, and Internet connection — our electricity is crappy just like the most part of the nation. We are plagued by brownouts and blackouts that last, often, more than 3 hours a day. When these power outages occur, in order to entertain ourselves, we go out and talk.
I went to public schools for 14 years, from elementary to tertiary. I am from a small island in the Philippines named Siquijor, and I live in one of its town, called Lazi. I went to the public elementary school there. There was no private elementary school at that time. And even if there was, the education I got from my public elementary school was probably at par with, or even better than, the education I would have received in a private school there. My former teachers were dedicated school teachers and experts in their fields. The elementary school is located just across my grandparents’ house where I lived most of the time.